FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE
Josh's younger years
We took him to various services to try to see what the issue might be - baby clinics on the Central Coast, baby specialists in Sydney and sometimes the Dr. We never got a clear answer to the problem.
We'd been at our daycare for 5 years (as our eldest son went through) and Josh had been there from about 12 months old. They would suggest to us that we have Josh 'tested' as they could also see that something wasn't quite right. He wasn't engaging with the other kids so well, he would rarely eat what the hot meals they provided, rather just eating boiled rice.
We started Speach Therapy, and I realised just how far behind in his language he was. It was quite eye opening. We had our own little routine (as routines were so important to Josh!) where we would drop his older brother off at school, go and get him a cheesymite scroll and myself a hot chocolate and continue to the speach therapist. However, the days that we were running late, and couldn't stop at the bakery, were just chaos. So much so that the speach therapist said she could not work with him if he missed his scroll - he was just too 'out of sorts'.
I would sometimes go to Maccas for a coffee with a few Mums after school drop off. If I forgot to tell Josh we were going, he would not come in. I would have to go and tell them that I wasn't coming in as Josh refused to get out of the car, and dragging him in kicking and screaming was not an option for me. Of course the Mums naturally thought he was very strange - what child doesn't want to go into Maccas!
I had days which were simply horrible. One day that stounds out was my birthday. My best friend was coming up to the Coast from Sydney to take me out to lunch. Josh and I had a terrible morning. He was angry and poured a whole bottle of cordial all over the kitchen floor. I rang my friend in tears and told her not to come up. I had had enough and just wanted to spend the day at home by myself. Being the wonderful friend that she was, she knew what I really needed and came up.
When Josh was in Year 1, we recieved the diagnosis of Autism. Not Aspergers like I had been assuming, but Autism. The diagnosis of autism was due to his very poor vocabularly and speaking ability. This was in 2010. In 2010 there was not nearly as much information or discussions as there is about Autism (now commonly reffered to as ASD). We didn't know anyone else that had a child 'on the spectrum', and all I'd ever known of Autism was from the movie 'Rainman'. Needless to say, my husband and I were both broken shocked. His school was shocked as they knew he needed 'extra support' but didn't realise that the diagnosis would be Autism.
Along with the diagnosis came a visit to the paediatrician. The paediatrician recited a 'laundry' list of all the things Josh would likely never achieve in his life - make good friends, express emotion, achieve at school, show compassion, get married, have a family, drive a car and even feel love.
Confusion, doubt, anger, and 'what now' were just some of the feelings we had. When the paediatrician gave us the run down on everyting Josh would never accomplish, he also gave us the 'treatment' - antipsychotic medication, 3 times a day. Hubby and I inquired as to how long would this need to be for. The response 'the rest of his life'. Josh was only 7. Another round of shock hit us.
Over the coming days we decided that we didn't like the Dr's projected outcomes, and we didn't like his suggested treatment. The time came for us to make a hard decision - do what we were told, or find our own way. We decided to go out on our own and look for help for our son. If that's all the 'specialist' had for us, then we were saying 'thanks, but no thanks'. We didn't just want our son to survive, we wanted him the THRIVE.
This began the maze of life - we were in the dark just trying to find our way. My husband and I read books, watched documentaries online, read whatever we could fine. There wasn't' a lot of information online, but slowly we found our way.
Change of lifestyle - a new way
The next 2 years were difficult, but absolutely life giving for Josh. His teachers were just divine. They cared so well for him and gave us a lot of great advice on how to best help Josh - advice we had never received from any of the 'specialists' we'd been seeing over the years. After 2 years it was decided that Josh was now doing so well, he could return to mainstream at his old school. His friends would often ask about him, and welcomed him back with open arms. It was less strain on us as we had previously had our 4 kids going in 4 different directions every day - one in highschool, one at the Aspect school, one in our chosen primary school and one in pre-school - life had definitely been chaotic.
The change in school had done wonders for Josh, it was a true Godsend. We also made many other changes that made a huge difference in Josh's life - we cut chemicals from our diets (colours, preservatives and additives), we limited his screentime dramatically, got him involved in a sport and many other changes. Over time, we started to see the difference it made. He was happy, was no longer threatening to run away from home, or damaging property, or having 'meltdowns'. People were commenting on how much Josh had changed. They couldn't believe the difference in him. We were constantly told 'he is like a different kid'. And he was. The old Josh was gone, and his 'lights' were back on in his eyes. We were getting our boy back!
Our son is back
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"They eyes are the lamp of the body. If your eye is clear,